Youngster Shows How Its Done In Skills Competition

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Ridge Halenar had such a good time winning the Fleer Baseball Skills town and regional competition last year, he vowed to return again in 1999 for a second attempt at the 7- and 8-year-old division.

This second time around -- with a little more practice and seasoning --his victory was even more convincing.

Battling 15 others in his age group, April 14 at Rumsey Park, Ridge amassed the amazing total of 633 points by winning each of the events -- batting, fielding and base running.

His final point total easily bested his nearest competitor, Devin England, who finished with 392.

Compiling 391 points, Aaron Largo was third.

Because the baseball skills program is fairly new to Payson, records are not kept. But Ridge's tally is good enough to stamp him as one of the favorites to win both the upcoming regional and state championships.

As a regional crown-holder last year, Ridge represented Payson and the region, in the state championships held prior to an Arizona Diamondbacks game in Bank One Ball Park. He finished fourth but was pitted against athletes who were mostly a full year older.

How impressive was Ridge's latest winning tally?

Had he participated in the 9- and 10-year-old age group, he would have finished second, about 150 points behind champion Aaron McRae. And had he moved up two age groups to the 11-12-year-olds, he would have been sixth.

One of the most interesting battles in the competition occurred in the 13-14-year-old group, where only two athletes, Waylon Pettet and Taylor Walden, were entered.

As longtime friends who've played mostly on the same sports teams together, the two engaged in a nose-to-nose battle which was eventually taken by Pettet . His victory margin was only 1,267 to 1,100.

Pettet won the batting and base-running titles, while Walden took the fielding/throwing competition.

The top-five finishers in each age division were as follows:

Batting--Fielding--Base Running--Total
7-8-year-olds
1. Halenar, R. 204--207--222--633
2. England, D. 134--50--208--392
3. Largo, A. 158--73--160--391
4. Haynes, H. 182--75--68--325
5. Clark, J. 106--98--109--313
9-10-year-olds
1. McRae, A. 302--352--132--786
2. Parker, N. 162--247--133--542
3. Brooks, Z. 168--145--131--444
4. Neff, D. 50--164--223--437
5. Piazza, D. 204--50--89--343
11-12-year-olds
1. Hargis, P. 360--392--334--1086
2. Grubbs, D. 340--362--197--899
3. Herring, D. 244--360--221--825
4. Meyocks, B. 300--350--136--786
5. Wallace, S. 136--340--236--712
13-14-year-olds
1. Pettet, W. 406--452--409--1267
2. Walden, T. 258--468--374--1100

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